Often we forget that part of compassion is self-compassion.

Photo by Mitchell Luo on Unsplash

It’s September 2017. I’m sitting in a training session for diversity practitioners, a group of people committed to creating more inclusive and equitable schools. I’m a white, heterosexual, cisgender man. I’m sporting a pink polo shirt-tucked into my khaki shorts-and my Chaco-tan is prominent.

The leader of the training tells us that we are going to partner up and do a little role playing exercise.

“DEIJ work,” he says, “Starts with empathy.”

He’ll get no argument from me. As a DEIJ practitioner, my first job is to listen to the stories of others, to hear their experiences.

The leader continues…

I’m doing my best teaching in the midst of a global pandemic with these 3 key concepts.

I’m an introvert, so the joke around my house is that I’m living my best life now!

But it’s not a joke. It’s true. While the world outside my door is a scary place full of heartache and frustration, inside my house, I’m doing some of my best work.

Writing, of course, lends itself to this situation. I’ve got the gift of time now. I can close the studio door, ask Alexa to play Anna Tivel or the Smiths or Dawn of Midi, and get down to drafting and crafting.

Teaching, however, is a different animal. We teachers are bunkered…

Things are hard right now. We’re isolated.

I have a son. His name is Gus. He’s been living with me (and his mom) for just over nine years now. Sometimes, I write him little letters.

8 April 2020

Dear Gus,

Yesterday morning, I was working upstairs because we’re all stuck here in the house under threat of COVID-19. You and Mom were playing downstairs, having a good time too, but then your shrieks of delight became shrieks of anger and frustration.

“Gus,” I called out, “Come on up here.”

“Why should I?” you said. You’ve taken quite the attitude lately. Mom and I keep reminding you that…

Photo by Kristine Weilert on Unsplash

A Practice for the Pandemic Era

My street looks strange these days.

We live on a cul-de-sac in the suburbs of Houston, an idyllic kind of place with lots of trees and nearly as many kids. Normally, on a weekend, we’d see children, from toddlers up through fifth graders, running around the neighborhood together. They ride bikes, have foot races, climb trees, organize impromptu games like “Capture the Flag.”

Yet, these days, the cul-de-sac is quiet. The kids occasionally come out, but rather than running around together, rolling in the grass, and tagging each other, they keep a wide berth.

Being a child in the coronavirus…

Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash

Activate Your Hands and Activate Your Creativity

Living a creative life requires getting in touch with your Self, the core part of you that longs to create. The Self is wired into the energy all around us and is ready to make something new and amazing. But we have to dig down and find it; then, we have to let it emerge.

One of the best ways to tap into the Self is through meditation. For many skeptics, meditation looks boring. After all, meditation is little more than sitting. …

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How do we ensure the Muse will make regular visits? Build her a home.

During our 17 years of marriage, my wife and I have moved many times. Nine different places we’ve rented or owned. The number jumps up to 15 if you include houses, apartments, and rooms that we’ve crashed for a month or more while we searched for a new spot.

I can’t say whether this is a lot of moving around, but it feels like a lot.

Each new place required its particular adjustments. Each dishwasher, for example, had its own configuration for loading. Showers had different types of knobs that needed to be turned in different ways to produce the…

Photo by Matt Artz on Unsplash

That question has only two possible answers: Yes or No.

Yesterday, I wrote a bit about the power of YES.

YES, as I wrote, opens minds and opens arms. It’s a welcoming sort of word. Get used to saying it to yourself every time you think about working on your art.

  • Should I go upstairs and write? YES.
  • Should I take my laptop to the coffeeshop and edit that story? YES.
  • Should I sit in the backyard and brainstorm story ideas? YES.

We must invite the Muse in by saying YES to whatever she asks us to write. We aren’t always in full control of that. …

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Why this is the most important word for the artist to learn

When John Lennon met Yoko Ono, he was at an exhibition of her artwork. One of her pieces was a sheet of paper hung up on the ceiling. To see the painting, John had to climb up a tall ladder and grab a magnifying glass suspended from the ceiling. When he pointed the magnifying glass at the paper, the word YES appeared.

Lennon says that if the piece had said NO then his relationship with Yoko would have ended before it even started.

(Say what you want about whether Yoko “broke up the Beatles” — she didn’t! — but you…

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

On the importance of meditation for the writer’s mind

On a morning like this, when the sun is up in the sky before I even roll out of bed, I often find it hard to write. I take my coffee outside and sip while I use a push broom to clear the deck of autumn leaves.

(I like to pretend that the push broom is a big toothbrush and I am a brushing a whale’s teeth. Oral hygiene is very important to whales, you know.)

Still, even when the world feels like it might have stopped, even when we think that we will feel content today to go about…

Occasionally, I write letters to my son.

Dear Gus,

Today was a half-day at school. These are typically trying days for you, for all of us here. You love playing with your friends so much, so when you leave school early and come home, sometimes you’re a little upset about that situation.

On days like these, Mom and I always have fun activities planned for you. This afternoon, we made pumpkins out of construction paper so that we’d be able to make the table pretty for our Thanksgiving dinner. After that, we sang songs while I played guitar. Your favorite…

Stephen Hebert, M.T.S.

Reader. Writer. Texan. Mystic? Teacher. Theologian. Mindfulness Wonk. Mystic? Buddhiscopalian. Houstonian. Human too. Want to read more? See sbhebert.com.

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